Temple must strengthen university leadership

The Editorial Board urges Temple’s administration to improve their leadership style amid an overwhelming lack of confidence.

This semester, Temple University has been scrutinized for its handling of public safety near Main Campus and communication efforts following the fatal shooting of Temple University Police Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald and Temple University Graduate Students’ Association’s 42-day strike

Now, 92 percent of students generally disapprove of Wingard’s performance as president, according to a March 2023 poll conducted by The Temple News. Additionally, the Temple Association of University Professionals could potentially authorize a no-confidence vote against Temple leadership, including President Jason Wingard, Provost Gregory Mandel and board chair Mitchell Morgan.

The Editorial Board is urging Wingard and other members of Temple’s administration to acknowledge the community’s lack of confidence and work to improve their leadership style in the coming weeks by continuing to communicate campus safety plans and improving connections with students on campus, beyond social media posts. 

In a Feb. 22 interview with NBC10 Philadelphia, Wingard said he did not know what specifically the university needs to address safety concerns aside from collaboration with the state. 

“If you ask the question, ‘What should Temple University be doing to keep their students safe who live in Philadelphia?’ I don’t have the answer to that,” Wingard said.

One of the pillars of Temple’s Strategic Plan is thought leadership, or creating knowledge students can use “to take on and solve society’s greatest challenges.” However, Wingard has not been an example to demonstrate this solutions-based leadership himself. 

“The students are going to suffer due to faculty (looking at you Wingard), but I fully believe in student success when given the proper resources and opportunities,” wrote an anonymous student who responded to the survey.

On March 8, Pennsylvania lawmakers awarded Temple $1.8 million in funding for campus safety, including gunshot detection technology, license plate readers, retention and recruitment bonuses and cameras. 

It’s essential that Temple is transparent about the use of its budget and provides updates to the community regarding the progress of the public safety initiative. Last month, the university created a Campus Safety Media webpage to proactively update the Temple community with verified public safety information.

Despite steps toward improving communicating safety efforts, Wingard’s uncertainty regarding campus safety solutions generates pessimism for the university moving forward. Roughly 92 percent of students said Temple is not heading in a positive direction.

Students were also polled on whether they think Wingard is relatable as a president, and around 92 percent responded “No.” By failing to form relationships with students, Wingard appears removed from the community and their concerns. 

The university president needs to be more engaged with students, faculty and staff, by being active on campus and learning how to best serve them. It is important for people to feel like their voices are being heard and their concerns are actively being addressed to gain trust as a university leader.  

As the Temple community expresses an overwhelming lack of confidence in Temple’s future, the Editorial Board urges the administration to reevaluate their leadership style and how they can best tackle Temple’s pressing concerns.

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